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then is it self-moved towards God, when its preponderating bent is towards him. As a massy stone that one attempts to displace, if it be heaved at till it preponderate, it then moves out by its own weight; otherwise it reverts, and lies where as it did before. So it is with many men's hearts, all our lifting at them, is but the rolling of the returning stone; they are moved, but not removed : sometimes they are listed at in the public ministry of the word; sometimes by a private, seasonable admonition; sometimes God makes an affliction his minister; a danger startles them; a sickness shakes them; and they think to change their course : but how soon do they change those thoughts, and are where they were? what enlightenings and convictions, what awakenings and terror, what remorses, what purposes, what tastes and relishes do some find in their own hearts, that yet are blasted and come to nothing? How many miserable abortions after travailing pangs and throes, and fair hopes of a happy birth of the new creature ? Often somewhat is produced that much resembles it, but is not it. No gracious principle but may have its counterfeit in an ungracious heart; whence they deceive not others only, but themselves, and think verily they are true converts while they are yet in their sins. How many wretched souls, that lie dubiously struggling a long time under the contrary alternate impressions of the gospel on the one hand, and the present evil world on the other; and give the day to their own sensual inclinations at last, in some degree, escape the corruptions of the world, by the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, but are again entangled and overcome, so as their latter end is worse than their beginning! 2. Pet. 2. 20. Such a man is so far from being advantaged by his former faint inclinations towards God, that he would be found at last under this aggravated wickedness beyond all other men; that when others wandered from God through inadvertency and inconsideration, this man will be found to have been bis enemy upon deliberation, and against the various strivings of his convinced heart to the contrary. This is more eminently victorious and reigning enmity; such a one takes great pains to perish. Alas! it is not a slight touch, and overly superficial tincture, some evanid sentiments of piety, a few good thoughts or wishes, that bespeak a new man, a new creature. It is a thorough prevailing change, that quite alters the habitual posture of a man's soul, and determines it towards God, so as that the after-course of his life may be capable of that denomination, a living to God, a living after the Spirit ; that exalts the love of God unto that supremacy in him, that it becomes the governing principle of his life, and the reason and measure of his actions; that as he loves him above all things else, better than his own life, so he can truly (though possibly sometimes with a doubtful, trembling heart) resolved the ordinary course of his daily walking and practice
into that love, as the directive principle of it. I pray, I read, I hear, because I love God. I desire to be just, sober, charitable, meek, patient because I love God. This is the perfection and end of the love of God, (therefore that must needs be the principle hereof) obedience to his will. 1 John. 2. 5. Τετελειώσαι. Herein appears that power of godliness, denied (God knows) by too many that have the form : the spirit of love, power, and of a sound mind. 2. Tim. 3. 5. chap. 1. 7. That only is a sound mind, in which such love rules in such power. Is not love to God often pretended by such that, whenever it comes to an actual competition, discover they love their own flesh a great deal more;
that seldom ever cross their own wills to do his? or hazard their own fleshly interest to promote his interest? we may justly say (as the apostle, in a case fitly enough reducible hither,) how dwells the love of God in that man? Notwithstanding such a subdued ineffectual love to God, such a one shall be denominated and dealt with as an enemy. It is not likely any man on earth hates God so perfectly as those in hell. And is it not every quality, not yet perfect in its kind, and that is yet growing more and more intense, in the mean time allayed by some degree of its contrary? Yet that over-mastered degree denominates not its subject, nor ought a man from such a supposed love to God to have the name of a lover of him. That principle is not only capable of denominating the man, that is prevalent and practical, that hath a governing influence on his heart and life. He in whom the love of God hath not such power and rule, whatever his fainter inclinations, may be, is an ungodly man.
And now methinks these several considerations compared and weighed together, should contribute something to the settling of right thoughts in the minds of secure sinners, touching the nature and necessity of this heart-change; and do surely leave no place for the forementioned vain pretences that oceasioned them. For (to give you a summary view of what hath been propounded in those foregoing considerations,) it now plainly appears, That the holy Scripture requires in him that shall enjoy this blessedness, á mighty change of the very temper of his soul, as that which must dispose him thereto; and which must therefore chiefly consist, in the right framing of his heart towards God; towards whom it is mostly, fixedly averse, and therefore not easily susceptible of such a change. And that any slighter or more seeble inclination towards God, will not serve the turn; but such only whereby the soul is prevalently and habitually turned to him. And then what can be more absurd or unsavoury? what more contrary to christian doctrine, or common reason, than instead of this necessary heart-change, to insist upon so poor a plea, as that mentioned above, as the only ground of so great a hope? How empty and frivolous will it appear in eomparison of
this great soul-transforming change, if we severally consider the particulars of it. As for orthodoxy in doctrinals, it is in itself a highly laudable thing; and in respect of the fundamentals (for therefore are they so called) indispensably necessary to blessedness. As that cannot be without holiness, so nor holiness without truth. John. 17. 17. But, (besides that this is that which every one pretends to) is every thing which is necessary, sufficient ? As to natural necessity (which is that we now speak to ) reason, and intellectual nature are also necessary; shall therefore all men, yea, and devils too, be saved? Besides, are you sure you believe the grand articles of the Christian religion? Consider a little,—the grounds and effects of that pretended faith.
(1.) Its grounds ; every assent is as the grounds of it are. Deal truly here with thy soul. Can you tell wherefore you are a christian? what are thy inducements to be of this religion? are they not such as are common to thee with them that are of a false religion? (I am here happily prevented by a worthy author,* to which I recommend thee, but at the present a little bethink thyself,) Is it not possible thou mayst be a christian for the same reasons for which one may be a Jew, or a Mahometan, or a merePagan ? as namely, education, custom, law, example, outward advantage, &c. Now consider, if thou find this upon inquiry to be thy case, the motives of thy being a christian admit of being cast together into this form of reasoning. That religion which a man's forefathers were of, which is established by law, or generally obtains in the country where he lives, the profession whereof, most conduces to, or best consists with his credit, and other outward advantages, that religion he is to embrace as the true religion. But such I find the christian religion to be to me; therefore, &c. The proposition here is manifestly false; for it contains grounds common to all religions, publicly owned, and professed throughout the world ; and sure all cannot be true: and hence the conclusion (though materially considered it be true, yet) formally considered, as a conclusion issuing from such premises, must needs be false ; and what then is become of thy orthodoxy; when, as to the formal object of thy faith, thou believest but as Mahometans and Pagans do? when thou art of this faith, by fate or chance only, not choice or rational inducement ?
(2.) As to the effects of thy faith : let them be inquired into also, and they will certainly bear proportion to the grounds of it. The gospel is the power of God to salvation to every one that believes; (Rom. 1. 16. 1 Thes. 2. 13.) to them that believe it not, it signifies nothing. The word of God received with a divine faith, as the word of God, works effectually upon
* Mr. Pink's trial of sincere love to Christ.
all that so receive it, that is, all that believe. What such efficacious workings of it hast thou selt upon thy soul ? Certainly, its most connatural effect is that very change of heart, and inclination God-ward, of wich we have been speaking. What is so suitable to the gospel-revelation, as a good temper of heart God-ward ? And how absurd is it to introduce the cause on purpose to exclude its genuine inseparable effect? But evident it is, (though true faith cannot,) that superficial, irrational assent, in which alone many glory, may too well consist with a disaffected heart towards God: and can it then signify any thing towards thy blessedness ? sure to be so a solifidian is to be a nullifidian. Faith not working by love is not faith ; at least profits nothing. For thy outward conformity in the solemnities of worship, it is imputable to so corrupt motives and principles, that the thing itself, abstractively considered, can never be thought characteristical and dististinguishing of the heirs of blessedness. The worst of men, may perform the best of outward duties. Thy most glorious boasted virtues, if they grow not from the proper root, love to God, they are but splendid sins, as above appears, and hath been truly said of old. Thy repentance is either true or false ; if true, it is that very change of mind and heart I speak of, and is therefore eminently signalized by that note, it is repentance towards God; if false, God will not be mocked. For thy regeneration in baptism; what can it avail thee, as to this blessedness, if the present temper of thy heart be unsuitable, thereto? Didst thou ever know any that held, that all the baptized should be saved? Will thy infant sanctity excuse the enmity and disaffection to God of thy riper age
In short, if we seclude this work of God upon the soul, how inconsiderable is the difference between the Christian and the Leathen world? wherein can it then be understood to lie, but in some ineffectual notions, and external observances? And can it be thought that the righteous, holy God will make so vast a difference in the states of men hereafter, who differ so little here? or that it shall so highly recommend a man to God, that it was his lot to be born, and to have lived upon such a turf or soil, or in such a clime or part of the world? His gracious providence is thankfully to be acknowledged and adored, that hath assigned us our stations under the gospel; but then it must be remembered, the gospel hath the goodness, not of the end, but of the means; which, as by our improvement or non-improvement, it becomes effectual or ineffectual, doth acquit from, or aggravate condemnation : and that it works not as a charm or spell, we know not how, or why, or when we think not of it; but by recommending itself in the demonstration and power of the Holy Ghost, to our reason and consciences, to our wills and afsections, till we be delivered up into the mould or form of it. Rom. 6. 17. Surely were it so slight a matter, as too many
fondly dream, that must distinguish between them that shall be saved and shall perish, there would need no striving to enter in at the strait gate; and the disciples question would never have been, who then shall be saved ? but rather, who shall not be saved ? nor would it have been resolved by our Saviour into the immediate power of him alone, to whom all things are possible (Matt. 19. 26.) that any are saved at all; nor have been so earnestly asserted by him, that none could come to him, but whom his Father draws. John. 6. 44. The obvious import of which passages is such, that if careless sinners could once obtain of themselves seriously to consider them, methinks they would find little rest in their spirits, till they might discern a work wrought there, in some degree worthy of God, an impression some way proportionable to the power of an almighty arm; and that might speak God its author. For notwithstanding the soul's natural capacities before asserted and inferred, its * moral incapacity, I mean its wicked aversation from God, is such as none but God himself can overcome. Now is that aversation the less culpable, for that it is so hardly overcome, but the more. It is an aversation of will; and who sees not, that every man is more wicked, according as his will is more wickedly bent? Hence his impotency or inability to turn to God, is not such as that he cannot turn if he would ; but it consists in this, that he is not willing. He affects a distance from God. Which shews therefore the necessity still of this change. For the possibility of it, and the encouragement (according to the methods wherein God is wont to dispense his grace) the sinner hath to hope and endeavor it, will more fitly fall into consideration elsewhere.
*That moral incapacity is also in some sense truly natural, that is, in the same sense wherein we are said to be by nature the children of wrath, Eph. 2. 3. Therefore human nature must be considered as created by God, and as propagated by man. In the former sense, as God is the author of it, it is taken in this distinction, of moral and natural impotency, which needs not further explication; yet you may take this account of it from Dr. Twisse, Impotentia faciendi quod Deo gratum est et acceptum, non est impotentia naturæ, sed morum. Nulla etenim nobis deest facultas naturæ per peccatum originale, juxta illud Augustini; Nulli agnoscendi veritatis abstulit facultatem. Adhuc remanet potentia, qua facere possumus quæcunque volumus: the inability to do what is pleasing and acceptable to God, is not a natural but moral inability. For no faculty of our nature is taken away from us by original sin (as saith Augustine,) it has taken from no man the faculty of discerning truth. The power still remains by which we can do whatsoever we choose. Vind. I. 3. errat. 9. sect. 6. Naturalem potentiam, quidlibet agendi pro arbitrio ipsorum, dicimus ad omnes transmitti, non autem potentiam moralem: we say that the natural power of doing any thing according to our will is preserved to all, but not moral power. Vindic. Criminat. 3. S. 1. digr. 2. chap. 3.